WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE LAST JEDI
The long-awaited eighth episode in the Star Wars saga is here, and we have LOTS to say about it!
Warning: spoilers included!
KIM: Zane, I am dying to know your thoughts on The Last Jedi!
ZANE: I enjoyed the film immensely and I think it did things that no other Star Wars movie has done. It was visually exciting, in a way that was brand new to the series. I’m a big fan of Rian Johnson from the Brick days, and I was blown away by the way he used color.
I wrote about the way women wielded power in the movie vs. the terrible men, and of course I was on board with that. I cried at the Leia/Laura Dern farewell scene.
That being said, I did think it was a little too long. It had that Marvel movie problem of the overlong, flying vehicle last act. If they could have trimmed ten or maybe fifteen minutes off, it would have been a masterpiece.
KIM: Agreed! I think we’re going to be on the same page for a lot of this! I also loved how visually exciting this installment is, with the lightspeed collision and the Crait battle being the big standouts. I loved seeing strong women in positions of power, and the way that Holdo’s conflict with Poe Dameron showed the flaws in the type of character who flies by the seat of his pants and takes big risks without fully thinking out the consequences. Overall, I think that this film spent more time than most other Star Wars movies in delving into character motivations and flaws. I’m with you on the run time going too long, though for me, I felt the drag in the early and mid-section, most especially in Canto Bight. Finn and Rose’s falthier ride through the casino gave me prequel vibes (yikes), and I was scared there for a minute! But thankfully, that feeling went away quickly and I was blown away by the final act.
What are your thoughts on the development of the characters we first met in The Force Awakens and the new additions we meet in The Last Jedi?
ZANE: I felt like Rey and Kylo were the most developed. To me, that relationship was the most thrilling, and it culminated in that beautiful fight scene. Rey, especially, comes into her own here, finding her power and its roots in a place that seems different to me than what we’ve seen in male Jedi/Sith.
I sort of feel like Poe is a big asshole. He’s sexy as f, but an asshole. He messes up big time and continues to mess up and be arrogant. But maybe that’s series development: we’ve had rogues with hearts of gold and all the arrogance that comes with that, but we’ve never had a main character so consistently wrong-headed.
Finn...well, to me, Finn is a baby and he toddled through his set pieces. Thank god for Rose! I liked the falthiers because they look like one of my dogs (my other dog is 100% crystal fox, btw) and I liked Rose’s reaction to them, and the way she’s the most woke Star Wars character ever.
What about you?
KIM: Your dogs sound awesome! I loved all of the new creatures we meet in this movie--YES, PORGS TOO. I love the minor ways these critters fill out the universe and I think they integrated nicely into the story. As for the humans, the development of Rey and Kylo blew me away. The two actors had fantastic chemistry together, even in scenes where they’re not on the same planet. While I found Kylo intriguing in The Force Awakens, he fully emerges into a complex, conflicted, captivating villain in The Last Jedi. What really gripped me was that he does seem to care about Rey and see something in her. We get a HUGE reveal--Rey’s not a part of the Skywalker bloodline. She’s just a nobody, dreaming of being part of something bigger than herself. Kylo reveals this to her and still wants her to join him on the Dark Side. He’s all about erasing the past and starting over, erasing his own family’s cyclical fate.
Sorry Oscar Isaac fans, as charming as he may be, I’m not Team Poe in this movie. His cockiness and abundant confidence that he knows everything is what leads to nearly the entire Resistance getting massacred. Also, is it just me or is he waaaay into his droid? BB-8, if you need help, please beep twice.
I was super excited to see the addition of Rose to the cast--hell yeah Asian women representation! She’s smart, capable, and an animal lover. I do think, unfortunately, that she and Finn got stuck with the least exciting storyline--another Star Wars rag-tag team of unlikely heroes sent out on a mission with 1,000-to-1 chances of failure. But I do like, much like with Poe and Holdo, that storyline didn’t end up where you think it’s going to go. And that’s what I think Rian Johnson’s biggest strengths are in this film--he subverts our expectations by taking the usual Star Wars tropes and, to quote Missy Elliot, putting the thang down, flipping, and reversing it. Which leads to the fanboy reaction….
ZANE: First off, YASS to the Missy Elliot! That’s exactly what he does, especially with Rey’s heritage. I had all kinds of crazy ideas about who she ACTUALLY was: a girl clone from Luke’s hand! Obi-Wan’s love child? Brainwashed Solo child?! But instead she’s just a child, treated poorly. This ties into the bad fanboy reaction. And boy is it bad.
Disney erased the Extended Universe (think books, video games, comics) when they took over. Full disclosure: my husband was deep into the EU, and he took it hard, and it created a lot of bad feelings in him about The Force Awakens. True story: when we saw TFA the first time, he fell asleep and woke up just as Kylo was killing Han. “THIS MOVIE SUCKS!” he said, over and over. Anger is the path to the Dark Side. But he is a grown man and he got over it and truly liked this one. (And loved Rogue One, maybe because it is like a EU story.) Lots and lots of un-grown men on the internet are shitting bricks right now, and they dislike almost everything we like: women, people of color being represented, moving away from that special Skywalker bloodline, the destruction of the EU, Leia as Force Witch. Basically, I think they are terrible babies who all stink.
And for the record, as a Star Trek partisan at heart, I accepted the new Trek movies blowing up two hundred years of Federation history. Let it live in your heart in an alternate universe, manbabies!
KIM: AMEN. I’ve seen people online complaining that The Last Jedi is “too political,” and I really want to know what Star Wars movie they watched 40 years ago. It’s always been about fighting an authoritarian power, be it Emperor Palpatine or Supreme Leader Snoke (boy bye). But I guess we humans always see ourselves as the center of our own stories--which leads me to one of my favorite parts of The Last Jedi, the moral ambiguity of war. I wasn’t a fan of Benicio Del Toro’s affected performance, but I loved the idea he introduces--if each side just keeps taking turns bombing each other, who’s really the good guys and who’s the bad guys? Luke Skywalker wrestles with the fear and shame that he is responsible for creating the new Vader, which freaks him out so much he banishes himself to a solitary island where he cuts himself off from the Force and lives off questionable dairy products. Maybe what people are so up in arms about is the fear that the Jedis aren’t the spotless Good Guys we’ve wanted them to be all along? I love the maturity and emotional heft that this installments brings to the saga.
ZANE: LOL Luke and the green space walrus milk. The man is a sucker for oddly hued dairy. You’ve given me a new read on Luke. I was like: THIS GUY SUCKS, SULKING ON HIS ISLAND WITH HIS FISH NUNS, WHAT A TOOL. But now I see it’s shame that’s kept him there, and I feel very Brene Brown about it all.
I, too, was meh about Del Toro (he’s just all tics as acting choices now, as evidenced by this and Guardians?) but I did like that point he made about the machine of war and the conflict with righteousness. I think it’s interesting that his point and Rose’s point about the way the First Order systematically oppresses billions of beings are made to Finn, who is...a child soldier, kidnapped and pressed into the First Order’s service. Like, you’d think he’d be the first one to snap to that. Rogue One had a similar weighty tone--dealing with hope in the face of hopelessness, and acting despite knowing you will be sacrificed to a great cause--and I think it’s that material that raises the newer films up a level for me.
Something that lowers the films for me: children. What are your thoughts on the little stable children on Canto Bight?
KIM: Having the focus of the final shot be a cherubic little white boy was very Spielbergian to me. I get it but are we kinda back at square one? That said, we’re meant to recall a young Luke standing on the moisture farm on Tatooine, staring at two setting suns and hoping for a better future. AND it reinforces this new revelation that anyone can be born with the power to use the Force. So on one hand, a little too on the nose, but on the other hand, I’ll probably cry buckets when I watch this scene while on my period.
ZANE: It was all very “Children are our Future” to me. But also very KIDS BUY OUR SHIT. So like my inner Whitney Houston was engaged in battle with my inner Marxist. Those two really need to have a telepathic chat session sometime.
I think the only thing left to talk about is Carrie Fisher/Leia. I’m profoundly saddened by her death for many reasons, but I couldn’t help thinking what the final movie in this trilogy would have been like if she hadn’t died. Rumor has it that it was supposed to be her movie, the way Force Awakens was Harrison Ford’s and this one was Mark Hamill's. But I thought they handled it beautifully and of course I sobbed when Laura Dern said her goodbyes, as did every middle aged human in the theater.
KIM: Absolutely. We’ve watched Leia go from feisty princess to wise General, and the impact she’s had on women of our generation is immeasurable. I too am heartbroken that we won’t get to see her final chapter. If there’s any comfort I can find, it’s treasuring the moments we DID get--her scenes with Holdo, her goodbye to Luke, her sole moment of harnessing the Force to save her life after the explosion on the bridge. I loved the way this movie expressed the balance that is the Force--ditching the midichlorians and going back to the very basic and pure idea that life and death, peace and violence, etc. are all necessary. But ohhh man now I’m feeling all the feelings, brb gonna fix my soul by buying all the porg merchandise.
ZANE: Pick me up a Crystal Fox (Vulptex, to be technical) while you’re at it!
Super fun chatting with you! [I was gonna go full nerd but pulled back at the last second!]
KIM: I had a blast talking Star Wars with you too! And since Disney owns Star Wars, we’ll be sure to do this again on a yearly schedule plus occasional Fourth of July weekends.
ZANE: We'll do it again in May 2018 for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
KIM: I’m there!